… at least according to the College of Business Studies where the course was available 

Values: Universal human values can be an effective agent for positive change in traditional societies, which are breaking down under the effects of modern civilisation and education, it was pointed out at a conference held in Lobesa.

According to scholars and participants attending the second national conference on universal human values at the College of Nature Resources in Lobesa, the course or workshop on values could help students and people in having the right values and behaviour.

Introduced in July 2012, the colleges under Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) have since then started to offer the universal human values module in the form of a five-day workshop and as a course.

A faculty member of the Gedu College of Business Studies Tandin Chophel said they started offering the universal human values in the form of an eight-day workshop and also a semester-long course for students.

Tandin Chophel said after exposing students to universal human values, concepts and principles, changes in the behaviour of students were observed not just within campus but also outside the college. Earlier the college used to face disciplinary issues and receive complaints from the community. However, feedback from the people today is encouraging, and many students seem to behave more mindfully than before.

Former vice chancellor with RUB, Dasho Pema Thinley said: “Universal human values is about understanding our existence, coexistence, interdependence and understanding yourself.” Teaching human values in colleges helps bring change in perspectives and way of thinking.

He said it is a simple message and approach to make a big difference in society. Such simple values into the education system will bring positive changes towards creating a harmonious society.

Ganesh Bagaria, a resource person from Kanpur, India said that historically traditional societies have made efforts to be humane societies. However, with modernisation, traditional societies are breaking down, he said.

He pointed out that while older generations, categorised as those aged 35 years and above, still have concern for society and feel responsible for its development, younger generations don’t share these goals. This is happening even in Bhutan, he said.

Ganesh Bagaria said the education system has a major responsibility in preparing people and developing them into a living models of a humane society. It is vital to understand human goals that include right understanding and right feeling, trust in society, and co-existence.

However, modern education and civilisation is living with a gross misunderstanding he said. It was also pointed out that money is dominating the priorities of individuals. People have an obsession to consume and profit, for sensual pleasure, accumulation, domination or exploitation in society, terrorism and war, and also exploitation of the environment, he said.

Ganesh Bagaria added that with universal human values it is possible to understand, live, share and develop a living model. “If we work sincerely on it, in implementing it into the mainstream education, there is hope that Bhutan will be a living model of a humane society,” he said.

The first national conference on universal human values was held at Gedu college, in July last year as GNH values and education. Later the College of Language and Culture Studies in Trongsa was given the responsibility of promoting universal human values. The conference will be held every year.

The College of Language and Culture studies is organising the conference.

Dawa Gyelmo | Punakha